75 Lao Tzu Quotes About Life, Strength and Courage

Lao Tzu (also known as Laozi) was one of the most influential philosophers in Chinese history. He's also the author of the Tao Te Ching, a foundational text of Taoism—so it's no wonder we have so many fascinating Lao Tzu quotes that are still impactful today. He is believed to have lived around the 6th century BCE, although some scholars argue earlier dates. Lao Tzu served as a keeper of the archives at the royal court of the Zhou dynasty. Disillusioned by the political corruption and societal decline of his time, he left the court and made his way to China.  

During Lao Tzu's journey to China, he composed the Tao Te Ching, which is often translated as The Book of the Way and Its Virtue. Each chapter unveils his insights into the nature of existence, the cosmos and the path to harmonious living. Lao Tzu's teachings advocate for simplicity, humility and non-attachment—encouraging folks to align themselves with the flow of life rather than trying to force circles through squares. 

Lao Tzu's influence and ideas have inspired countless generations. The timeless wisdom encapsulated in his writings continues to resonate with modern readers around the globe, offering guidance on navigating life's many complexities with grace. If you need to reconsider your perspectives or embrace balance in your life, you're in luck. Read on for 75 Lao Tzu quotes that will inspire you to embrace the flow of life.

Related: 50 Miyamoto Musashi Quotes

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75 Lao Tzu Quotes

1. "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving."

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2. "Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know."

3. "The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth."

4. "Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.'"

5. "A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live."

6. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

7. "Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner."

8. "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."

9. "Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?"

10. "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

Related: 101 of the Best Confucius Quotes and Sayings to Motivate and Inspire You

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11. "Silence is a source of Great Strength."

12. "Stop thinking, and end your problems."

13. "Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love."

14. "Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment."

15. "Act without expectation."

16. "To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day."

17. "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."

18. "Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself."

19. "Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it."

20. "Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing."

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21. "Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running away and you will be found."

22. "The way to do is to be."

23. "If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve."

24. "He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty."

25. "The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long."

26. "Love is a decision, not an emotion." 

27. "Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force."

28. "Knowing how to yield is strength."

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29. "Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt."

30. "Great acts are made up of small deeds."

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31. "There is no illusion greater than fear."

32. "What is firmly rooted cannot be pulled out."

33. "If I had just a little bit of wisdom I should walk the great path and fear only straying from it."

34. "Take care with the end as you do with the beginning."

35. "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

36. "The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be."

37. "Respond to anger with virtue. Deal with difficulties while they are still easy. Handle the great while it is still small."

38. "Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear."

39. "The further one goes, the less one knows."

40. "The world belongs to those who let go."

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41. "Because of a great love, one is courageous."

42. "Be still. Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity."

43. "Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity."

44. "The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own."

45. "To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders."

46. "New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings."

47. "Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness."

48. "When there is no desire, all things are at peace."

49. "One who is too insistent on his own views finds few to agree with him."

50. "The wise man is one who knows what he does not know."

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51. "When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people's hearts."

52. "Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy."

53. "From wonder into wonder existence opens."

54. "He is free from self-display, and therefore, he shines."

55. "If you show yourself, you will not be seen. If you affirm yourself, you will not shine. If you boast, you will have no merit. If you promote yourself, you will have no success."

56. "To lead people, walk behind them."

57. "There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent."

58. "To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; not to realize that you do not understand is a defect."

59. "The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world."

60. "Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things."

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61. "If you want to know me, look inside of your heart."

62. "Violence, even well-intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself."

63. "Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere."

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64. "Some lose yet gain, others gain and yet lose."

65. "The heart that gives, gathers."

66. "The difficult problems in life always start off being simple. Great affairs always start off being small."

67. "Do you imagine the universe is agitated? Go into the desert at night and look at the stars. This practice should answer the question."

68. "Your own positive future begins in this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here."

69. "To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go."

70. "To understand the limitation of things, desire them."

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71. "Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don't see the self as self, what do we have to fear?"

72. "Loss is not as bad as wanting more."

73. "When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you."

74. "There is a time to live and a time to die but never to reject the moment."

75. "Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend."

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